The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
UN OCHA Integrated Regional Information Network 13 Nov 2003 Civil freedoms needed under Iraq occupation, says report AMMAN, 13 November (IRIN) - The occupation of Iraq has served to divest people across the Arab world of many civil freedoms, something which has challenged human development, according to a new Arab Human Development report. http://www.undp.org/rbas/ahdr/ "In 2003, Iraq fell under an occupation that most Arabs saw as embodying plans to reshape the region from the outside to suit the interests of foreign powers," Rima Khalaf Hunaydi, one of its authors, told IRIN in Amman. "In response to Iraq's occupation, the report offers a "strategic vision of change," Hunaydi said. "Ripple effects across Arab society from the US-led invasion in Iraq should be addressed by self-reform. Such self-reform and self-criticism can only come through education," he noted. The report was released as part of a United Nations Development Programme project, using a team of independent researchers sponsored by the Regional Bureau for Arab States. It is part of a four-part series, which is expected to cover freedoms and political institutions, as well as gender imbalance and the empowerment of women in the 22 Arab states. Other researchers and authors of the report agreed that education was the only way to solve the growing "knowledge gap" in the Arab world. However, they did not say directly what they believed should happen in Iraq. But Muhammad Hasanayn Haykal, one of the authors who is also an Egyptian journalist, said the report not only called for knowledge and learning but was also "a "forewarning of imminent danger - urging us to hasten to douse the flames of a still-small fire waiting to engulf the region in a formidable blaze". More importantly, the report stressed that what was happening in Iraq was affecting the whole region. The only way for Iraqis and others to meet the challenge of occupation was to exercise their rights, free themselves, recover their wealth and take charge of rebuilding their country from a human development perspective. The report went on to call on all Arab governments to pass laws on freedom of thought and expression so that learning could flourish. It also pointed out that governments arbitrarily used laws on the pretext of "national security" or public order to restrict the public. Another area covered by the document was the media. The number of Iraqi newspapers had exploded in recent months, although many newspapers seemed to be financed by political parties or by wealthy financiers in the diaspora, it said. It noted that the main Iraq Media Network's television and radio channels were now overseen by US-led administrators. However, the situation in Iraq differed from that obtaining in the rest of the Arab world, where on average there were fewer than 50 newspapers per 1,000 residents, and where journalists often face threats and intimidation across, including in Iraq, it said. Western countries have about 285 newspapers available per 1,000 people. "So far, we're trying to prove we are news, not propaganda," Shamim Rassam, the general manager of the Iraq Media Network, told IRIN in Baghdad. "But if we're not getting criticism, then we're not doing anything right either," she said. The report sees Iraq's occupation as another component of the US war on terrorism, adding that "Arabs and Muslims had faced arrest and arbitrary detention without trial or charge. In Iraq, up to 5,000 detainees are being held for various crimes against coalition forces." The report also focuses on civil liberties and freedoms across the Arab world. It said following the 11 September attacks, the number of Arab students in the US had dropped by 30 percent. Civil liberties had been curtailed in the US, but authorities in Arab countries had also made new laws limiting civil and political freedoms, it noted. In this context, the Arab countries as a group had adopted the Arab Charter Against Terrorism, which allowed censorship and restricted printing and publication, as well as access to the Internet. Even though Arabs make up an about 5 percent of the world population, the number of books released in their region is only about 1 percent of the total number of books produced around the world. Of that number, 17 percent are religious books, compared to 5 percent in other parts of the world. "The author and publisher are forced to submit to the moods and instructions of 22 Arab censors," Fathi Khalil el-Biss, the vice-president of the Arab Publishers' Union, told IRIN. Scientific research was also stagnating in the Arab world, the report said. Moreover, although there was plenty of imported technology, there was little new research. Possibly as a result, about 25 percent of 1996 Arab university graduates had emigrated. Between 1998 and 2000, an estimated 15,000 Arab physicians also left their countries. "Civilized nations must have a culture associated with their history of scientific thought," said Ali Mustafa Musharrifah, another of the researchers. [ENDS] IRIN-Asia Tel: +92-51-2211451 Fax: +92-51-2292918 Email: IrinAsia@irin.org.pk _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk